Men and women 150 years ago grappled with information overload by making scrapbooks-the ancestors of Google and blogging. From Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony, African American janitors to farmwomen, abolitionists to Confederates, people cut out and pasted down their reading. Writing with Scissors opens a new window into the feelings and thoughts of ordinary and extraordinary Americans. Like us, nineteenth-century readers spoke back to the media, and treasured what mattered to them. In this groundbreaking book, Ellen Gruber Garvey reveals a previously unexplored layer of American popular culture, where the proliferating cheap press touched the lives of activists and mourning parents, and all who yearned for a place in history. Scrapbook makers documented their feelings about momentous public events such as living through the Civil War, mediated through the newspapers. African Americans and women's rights activists collected, concentrated, and critiqued accounts from a press that they did not control to create unwritten histories in books they wrote with scissors. Whether scrapbook makers pasted their clippings into blank books, sermon collections, or the pre-gummed scrapbook that Mark Twain invented, they claimed ownership of their reading. They created their own democratic archives. Writing with Scissors argues that people have long had a strong personal relationship to media. Like newspaper editors who enthusiastically scissorized and reprinted attractive items from other newspapers, scrapbook makers passed their reading along to family and community. This book explains how their scrapbooks underlie our present-day ways of thinking about information, news, and what we do with it.
Ellen Gruber Garvey (Professor of English Professor of English New Jersey City University)
Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication:
25 October 2012
A / AS level
Further / Higher Education
Introduction Chapter 1: Reuse, Recycle, Recirculate: Scrapbooks Remake Value Chapter 2: Mark Twain's Scrapbook Innovations Chapter 3: Civil War Scrapbooks: Newspaper and Nation Chapter 4 Alternative Histories in African American Scrapbooks Chapter 5: Strategic Scrapbooks: Activist Women's Clipping and Self-Creation Chapter 6: Scrapbook as Archive, Scrapbooks in Archives Chapter 7: The Afterlife of the Nineteenth-Century Scrapbook Index
Ellen Gruber Garvey is Professor of English at the New Jersey City University and the author of the award-winning The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture.
Reviews for Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance
<br> Writing with Scissors transports us beyond the well-known world of books, newspapers, and magazines, of internet websites, blogs, and databases into a bygone world of texts created with scissors and glue. Ellen Garvey shows us how nineteenth and early twentieth century readers became writers as they recycled and repurposed scraps from various sources to create secret, unwritten histories that often worked against the grain of accepted official narratives of the times. --Carla L. Peterson, author of Black Gotham: A Family History of African Americans in Nineteenth-Century New York City<p><br> American scrapbooks may just be our most precious time capsules. Fragile containers of personal memory and public reflection, they're potent--if ephemeral--receptacles of social history. To decode such volumes requires a curious mind, a steady compass, and a generous heart--qualities Garvey possesses in abundant supply. An extraordinary book. --Jessica Helfand, author of Scrapbooks: An American History<p><br> Writing with Scissors is cutting-edge! Drawing on an exquisite trove of original research, Garvey explains how earlier generations of Americans thrived amid an unprecedented onrush of information, tailoring media to individual ends and expressing--and making--themselves in the process. Writing withScissors is the perfect prequel to Henry Jenkins's Convergence Culture, one part celebration of the grassroots and one part history of the ways that people consume the media they do. --Lisa Gitelman, author of Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture<p><br>